Jordan Flournoy has always been a fast learner. He had over eighty college credits by the time he graduated high school at age seventeen. Despite the busy academic schedule, he still found time to excel in team sports and practice the piano up to six hours per day. He graduated college shortly after his nineteenth birthday.
The same aptitude, drive, and determination that served Flournoy well in his youth help him succeed as senior director of litigation at Samsung Electronics America, where he’s been since 2015. The ability to process information quickly and adapt to any new setting is critical in the broad role because Flournoy supports a consumer electronics company that sells everything from phones to refrigerators.
Flournoy’s agile team handles a high volume of matters primarily relating to mobile products, including class actions, product liability, antitrust, intellectual property, and other commercial disputes. Additionally, the team handles IP matters relating to nonmobile product categories.
“As a litigation lead at Samsung, I touch everything that comes in the door,” he says. “That means I have to be focused, prepared, and ready to address whatever issue arises on any given day.”
It’s a tough task, but one for which Flournoy has been preparing his entire life. He grew up as the youngest of four siblings in a small, east Texas town. Flournoy’s mom, a former schoolteacher, decided to homeschool her children when it was still a fairly uncommon practice.
Living outside of the traditional system for his entire K-12 experience afforded Flournoy the chance to work at his own pace, which turned out to be torrid. He worked with minimal oversight, taught himself algebra and trigonometry, opened his own piano studio, started college classes at age fourteen, and tested out of several subjects.
How did this unusual experience shape him? “I never wait for anyone to tell me to pick something up or learn something or solve a problem,” he explains. “I always take the initiative to find a way to do something.”
There was just one problem. When it came time to attend college, admissions officers didn’t know what to do with someone like Flournoy. After careful investigation, he discovered that Skidmore College would accept almost all of the credits that he had accumulated and allow him to create an individualized year-round program to earn an interdisciplinary degree in music and communications.
Although Flournoy, who had been inspired by reading about renowned civil liberties lawyers, knew he wanted to go to law school, he also needed a break after completing his undergraduate studies. He decided to take some time off from his formal education to work as a paralegal and teach piano lessons to pay for law school, and to complete a fellowship program in Washington, DC—all prior to enrolling at the University of Michigan Law School at age twenty-one.
Flournoy began his attorney career as an associate at Baker Botts and spent five years in general litigation. As he handled IP litigation and class actions, among many other types of matters, the young lawyer developed a particular interest in the tech sector. When Flournoy saw an opening at Samsung, he jumped at the chance to transition to an in-house role due to the organization’s reputation as well as the opportunity to focus on litigation.
Doing so forced Flournoy to learn new things all over again, but he’s enjoyed the challenge. “In-house lawyers see a variety of issues, and that keeps me on my game. It keeps me motivated and mentally focused,” he says.
Samsung’s management gives Flournoy the autonomy, tools, and resources he needs to effectively take on a leadership role, and he’s developed a precise method for tracking and managing the high volume of work that comes across his desk. “You have to find a way to make order out of chaos that comes with managing a litigation docket as complex as Samsung’s,” he says. Flournoy may not personally handle each issue, but he takes pride in an organizational system that ensures the team is responsibly handling everything as it moves through legal from start to finish.
Over the past seven years, Flournoy has devoted himself to churning out quality work product as well as building relationships that matter. “I want my internal stakeholders to know me as a person before they ever know me as a lawyer,” he says. “That will ultimately lead to better results as they come to legal instead of seeing the department as an obstacle.”
“I’ve worked with many in-house counsel over the years, and Jordan stands out as simply extraordinary,” says Richard A. Edlin, vice chair at Greenberg Traurig LLP. “He has a tremendous grasp of not only the technical side of things but also how a strategy will play out in the real world. What I also admire about Jordan is how committed he is to his family and to making sure that they come first while always getting the job done at work. It’s quite an achievement and he makes it seem easy. It isn’t.”
Strong external relationships and a good reputation matter, too. While Flournoy works for Samsung, he also feels an equal obligation to serve its customers. “I have to zealously advocate for my internal client, but that should not come at the cost of ensuring we are also doing our best for the people who use our products. The two should work in tandem,” he says. The solutions he and others in the legal department pursue must safeguard the company, but also protect how it engages patrons and tech enthusiasts.
Flournoy, of course, recognizes that his own personal and professional path has been anything but traditional. Still, he says that others looking to exit law school and eventually step into an in-house role should do whatever they can to prepare for the journey ahead.
“Make yourself indispensable,” he advises. “This was the single most impactful thing that was told me to as a young associate, and I have told it to many others since. Look for ways to add value and that will take you far, and always stay open to learning something new as you go.”
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